United Kingdom based Sela Motshwane read Horticulture at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa. It was there that she interned at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, South Africa and later was involved in 5 years of Kirstenbosch at the Chelsea Flower Show, London. Sela also studied Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, gained a Certificate in International Development. These courses were for her passion for Human Migration, where her thesis traced the Bantu and Nguni tribes from central Africa to southern Africa. She worked for Oxford Archaeology East for 3 years. Her passion for a greener world was reignited in 2009 when she met Sir David Attenborough just before he gave a talk at Museum Site, University of Cambridge. Sela had watched all of his BBC documentaries and listened to his repeated calls for private citizens to make small changes in their lives that will make big differences to climate change. She decided to create Green Botswana Trust after reading Ethiopia had planted 350 million trees in 2019. As a businesswoman from Botswana and a farmer’s daughter, she cares about how Botswana can contribute to restore natural world using nature based solutions.
In an interview with Sunday Oyinloye, Publisher, Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable, the Founder of GreenBotswana speaks on her charity.
What gave birth to GreenBotswana Trust?
AS a person who values the natural world, and grew up watching Sir David Attenborough nature documentaries, I decided to start a charity that would move away from trying to predict the future with climate change warnings, and start working towards a Green adaption and recovery.
What is your target, and what impact has the not –for- profit organisation made since you started?
GreenBotswana’s main target is calling for urgent action from the government and members of the public to create a culture of community, accountability and collegiality in moving Botswana towards climate action and sustainability. We believe to achieve the 2030 Paris agreement pledge; it will take all citizens and not just the government to reach our goal. To date, we have held four events where the community helped plant over 800 trees.
Are you facing some challenges and in what areas do you need collaboration or assistance?
The challenges we face is green investment, as public money alone will not address our urgent need to adapt and mitigate climate change in Botswana. We also face a problem of lack of climate literacy amongst the general public, although the good news is everyone GreenBotswana approached to plant trees understood the bigger picture when put to them.
If you are asked to advise Batswana on the environment, what will you tell them?
I would advise Batswana to treat our climate change vulnerability as urgent. We are under great pressure with food security, because Botswana imports most of her food and we need an increased production and diversity of our supply chain. The good news is there is a lot opportunity for us to grow fruit trees, vegetables and invest in our environment by planting indigenous trees.
How was it working with Oxford Archaeology East, would you like to share your experience?
Working at Oxford Archaeology East was mundane, if I may say so. But, it is an organisation that is extremely thorough, organised and committed to bringing the right information into the public domain. We excavated land in East Anglia and discovered Iron Age artifacts that were carefully bagged, washed and stored for research.
As a successful businesswoman, apart from this project, what have you done to give back to youth in Botswana and the community where you live in UK?
As a business woman from Botswana living in the UK, my first commitment was to be a Botswana Ambassador. I educated myself, and made an effort to learn about other cultures worldwide. I started a fashion business called Touch of Africa, where I paid Batswana tailors to make clothes for customers in the UK. And I always sought to find Trade not Aid solutions to us Africans.
What is that special thing that the world probably does not know about Sela ?
What people don’t know about me is I never give up. And I am not easily intimidated, so I have contacted a lot of politicians and business people to help in my campaigns. For example: in 2011 I asked Virgin Atlantic to help me fly African clothes from Johannesburg to London so I could hold a fashion show at Jesus College, Cambridge. The clothes arrived at Heathrow Airport with Cabin Crew free of charge.